We had an uneventful start to our trip. We parked off-site near O'Hare using www.airportparkingreservations.com - way cheaper than even the economy lot at O'Hare! We chose the Westin lot this time which worked out better since it is an our door parking lot instead of a parking garage. Last time, we had a parking garage and our full-sized van barely fit! Our flight left right on time, and arrived almost a half hour early. The kids all did great on the flight, and had a lot of fun on Disney's Magical Express bus to our resort - Disney's Beach Club.
Poor little Ella broke her arm a couple days before our trip!
We have points with Disney Vacation Club, so we always use those when visiting Disney. Definitely a great deal if you visit Disney every couple of years or so. We bought most of our points from resalers and have determined that our cost even after the yearly maintenance fees makes staying in these nice villas cost about the same as staying in Disney's value resorts. Here are some pictures of a 2-bedroom villa: (The same cost BUT we get two or three times as much space, the advantages of staying at Deluxe resorts, a full kitchen and a MUST for us... a washer/dryer in our room.)
|Disney's Beach Club|
Didn't have a lot of time here today, but we've stayed here once before and loved it. Tomorrow we'll put up some pictures of the pool - it's really great!
Our room was ready when we arrived at the hotel so we made a quick stop to drop off the computer and then took the boat straight over to Disney's Hollywood Studios. We had arranged Fast Passes for Toy Story Mania, so we did that first.
It was in the low 90's and that seemed to clear out the park quite a bit. Even the standby Toy Story line was posted as 50 minutes and looked like it was probably more like 30. There was no wait for the other rides - Star Tours, Rock n Roller Coaster, and Tower of Terror.
It was Zoe's first ride on Tower of Terror and she loved it!
We also went to the Frozen Sing Along which was cheesy, but fun for the little ones.
|Frozen Sing Along|
We had dinner at the little hamburger stand near Tower of Terror (Sally's All-American). I can't remember the name of it. I had a Fried Green Tomato Sandwich that was excellent.
Day 2 - EPCOT and Beach Club pool
|Zoe smothering, err I mean, hugging Zach. The Boardwalk is in the background.|
|Waiting for Epcot to open, probably talking about Minecraft.|
We headed to EPCOT (<--- Marc always has to spell Epcot the old fashioned way!) bright and early this morning. Luckily they let us in at 8:30am (from the International Entrance) and by the time we walked over to Soarin' it was already open. Of course we were kind of strolling.
I forgot what a short walk it is from the Beach Club to Epcot. We were there super early but had a fun time looking around the empty park.
I took the first ride with the kids while Kyrie stayed back with Zach. We only had to wait a few minutes and they gave us 2 child swap passes so that Kyrie could go with all four kids when I was done. Zach and I watched the Lion King environmental movie while Kyrie and the rest were riding Soarin'.
Zach is having a great time here. After the Lion King movie he was mimicking Timon and Pumba and he's been pointing out every character he sees whether it's a sign, symbol, or the actual character in person. He loved meeting some of the characters in person today, although he was also a bit nervous.
After Soarin, we went on Finding Nemo and then walked through the Innovations buildings. Both Innovations buildings have a lot of construction going on, but Kyrie and Jacob were able to create their own virtual coaster on Sum of all Thrills. We took turns going on Test Track and then headed to France for lunch. We ate at the bakery and had some good sandwiches and delicious desserts!
I've long wanted to eat at the patisserie in France. Even the girls said the ham and cheese croissant was "delicious," and that is something they normally wouldn't try.
We walked back to Beach Club to head for the pool. It's still very hot here, but it's been tolerable. That may be due to the fact that we've spent a lot of time on indoor attractions, and today we spent the whole afternoon at the pool. The kids loved playing in the beach pool, and Jacob and Max spent a lot of time on the water slide.
|Ella managed okay with the bag over her cast.|
And people did find him adorable...as he expected. When we left, several groups of people waved goodbye to Zach.
|hazelnut crusted chicken|
Day 3 - Be Our Guest for Breakfast, Magic Kingdom and Cabana Bay Resort (Universal Orlando)
This morning we started our day at the Be Our Guest restaurant for breakfast. This is a new dining option that is priced per person. It includes an assortment of pastries for the table, a breakfast entree of your choice and drinks.
|A long line even though we pre-ordered|
|Open faced bacon and egg sandwich|
We walked over to the Seven Dwarfs Mine Train, but the line was already quite long so we rode on Peter Pan, Winnie the Pooh, the Carousel, Dumbo, and It's a Small World. Later, Kyrie took some of the kids on it when the line wasn't as long. We usually successfully avoid long lines, but with this ride being one we've never experienced before, we didn't want to wait for another day when we had Fast Passes for it. It was really a must do and we're glad we did it.
We went on a few more rides before lunch. Zoe was complaining when I took her on Goofy's Barnstormer roller coaster because she thought she'd be scared, and then she complained after the ride was over because she wanted to go again. She ended up going on Seven Dwarfs Mine Train, Big Thunder Mountain and Splash Mountain today. I guess she's over her fear of coasters!
It was HOT today! I don't know if it was just because of being out in it more or what, but we really felt it today. The boys love these wet blanket things (Frog Togs) to cool off with.
For lunch we ate at Crystal Palace restaurant. The buffet was good, but I was still pretty full from breakfast. Zach loved seeing the Winnie the Pooh characters, although he was still to afraid to get very close to them without Mom or Dad.
|Zach, so excited that Piglet is coming!|
After lunch we headed back to the hotel to get our ride to our next resort, Cabana Bay at Universal Orlando!
|Do they really make this stuff anymore?|
|Some people probably have no idea how to set the alarm on these. (Just like I have no idea how to set alarm on the Iphone docks!)|
Zach had a blast playing in the lobby with Lucile Ball (jumping on the couches with her) and Tim the Minion (who really liked the banana Zach had in his stroller).
"Lucy" not only jumped on couches with Zach, but also coaxed him to lay chase with her around the lobby. She entertained us the whole time Marc checked us in. Hilarious!
Here are a few other pictures from around the lobby area.
Ella has been excellent about not complaining about her broken arm and the limitations it's causing... but it's starting to get to her.
By the way, they sell a single swim diaper in the gift shop for $5, but they give them away free at the pool!
We ate at the restaurant by the pool. Decent food and we all had a nice relaxed meal by the pool.
The hotel rents out inner tubes for the lazy river or you can buy them, but someone was nice enough to give us their's since they are leaving tomorrow!
Day 4 - Islands of Adventure
This morning Kyrie and Jacob headed to the extra hour at Islands of Adventure for on-site hotel guests, while the rest of us tried to catch up on some sleep. Zach didn't really cooperate with that once he realized Kyrie was trying to get up without him. He was fussy and woke up everyone except Max. The rest of us still stayed behind and just relaxed and ate breakfast while waiting for Max to wake up.
Meanwhile Kyrie and Jacob made it to the park before it opened. Unfortunately, the Harry Potter ride wasn't working at first, so they still had to wait a while. Eventually it started up and they managed to get on all 3 rides in the Harry Potter area.
It was a great morning! The HP ride started up at 8:05am and we were the 13th and 14th person to ride. We rode Flight of the Hippogriff twice before Dragon Challenge opened. We rode the Ice Dragon and then waited for front row on the Fire Dragon before meeting up with the others.
Everyone played around Suess Landing area for a bit. It wasn't long before Zach was ready for a nap, so I took him for a walk while he fell asleep. The rest of them went on the Seuss Landing rides that Zach wasn't tall enough for. After that, Max joined me (while the rest of us went on Spiderman which Max still does not enjoy) and sleeping Zach and we walked around the park for a while.
The new Raptor Experience in the Jurassic Park area is great. It's just a photo op, but the puppeteer, or whatever, is really good at making the Raptor seem lifelike. It makes for a fun experience for the people getting their picture taken and even better for the people watching!
We had some fun with the talking fountain in The Lost Continent. The fountain thought our Mickey head shirts were ridiculous and he called them koala heads.
We went to Mythos for lunch and had a delicious meal there as usual.
After lunch, I took Zach and Ella back to the hotel. Zach isn't feeling well and needed a rest and Ella didn't want to go on the rides that the others were going on. I don't think the others ended up going on any rides though. They did go to Olivander's to see the magic wand choose someone. They decided not to buy one though when they found out they were $50. Thankfully, even the kids realized that was a ridiculous price.
Zach was doing better when the others returned and we all headed to the pool. Eventually a storm rolled in and they closed the pool. We were about ready by then anyway.
For dinner tonight we ate at the Bayside Diner here at the resort. It's a cafeteria that serves a wide variety of items. I had the Tofu Stir Fry and Kyrie ate the Grilled Cheese with BBQ Brisket. Both were good.
Day 5 - Universal Studios
Today we spent the whole day at Universal Studios. We planned on sort of sleeping in, but at 6am Zach decided it was time for everyone to get up. We reluctantly gave in since we had no choice. We went to the early entry hour at Islands of Adventure. Zach went on his first roller coaster, Flight of the Hippogriff. He loved it! When the other park opened, we took the train over. It was a fun ride from Hogsmeade to Kings Cross, London. Using very cool technology we could see various Harry Potter landscape and characters outside the window along the way, and also see stuff going on through the door of our train cabin inside.
When we arrived at Universal Studios we were directed over to the secret entrance to Daigon Alley, the other Harry Potter area. It is very well hidden behind a London facade. The Diagon Alley section is beautifully done. I don't know the Harry Potter books or movies that well, so much of it was foreign to me, but it's just amazing the detail they put into this area.
We headed straight over to Gringott's bank where the ride is. Great theming within the bank also. The Gringott's ride was really cool, even though it's just the same technology as Spiderman and Transformers.
Next, we went across the lake to Springfield to ride on the alien dumbo-type ride. Very funny. Then we headed on The Simpsons ride.
Zoe quoted these aliens later saying they told her NOT to have a good day at Universal Studios, but she did anyway!
They've added a lot of theming including that ride, and shops, food stands, and games to the Simpson's area since we were last here. A big improvement!
|Men in Black|
It started raining, so we ducked into the Men In Black ride. It rained a bit off and on after that, but never too heavily. We had lunch at a pizza place in the San Francisco area.
Men In Black just sits there looking out of place near the Simpson's area. It's a good ride though. Too bad they couldn't have just kept the Back to the Future ride there too and themed up that area too.
Anyway, not much to say about any of this. Went on various rides throughout the day. The Minions ride had the longest line throughout the day. It's been a long time since we've waited nearly an hour in line for any ride since we always have things so well planned out to avoid the crowds. The rain made us not want to race back and forth across the park to optimize wait times, so we just bit the bullet here. Zach needed a nap anyway, and he got one in line and woke up just in time for the show. Fun ride, but still using the Jimmy Neutron ride with a new movie, which I think was also the same ride with a different theme before that.
We purchased the Universal Cinematic Dining Package which included dinner at Lombard's Seafood Grille and a dessert reception in a reserved seating area for watching the nighttime show. The dinner was good. It includes a limited menu, but there were plenty of decent choices. It included an appetizer, entree and soft drinks. Seemed like a great deal for $45/adult and $17/child.
The dessert reception was good. Plenty of good desserts, although they had trouble keeping them stocked. The show was fun to watch and the seating provided a good view.
Zoe wasn't feeling well and was asleep before the show was over. She's too tall to sit comfortably in the stroller while trying to sleep, so I had to carry her back to the bus. That was a long walk, but we managed. Zach fell asleep in the stroller during the walk, so it was quite a challenge to get the stroller folded up and get everyone onto the bus, but Kyrie and Jacob worked it out while I kept Zoe asleep. We all agreed that we needed to sleep in tomorrow!
Seems we've been taking turns being ill. I had a sore throat and ear ache for a couple days on the day we left, then Zach, now Zoe, Marc said he felt a little under the weather one day too. Fortunately no one was feeling so bad that it's ruined their day. We do have strong immune systems so we seem to be getting along okay despite this cold or whatever virus we're passing around.
Day 6 - Islands of Adventure, Cabana Bay Resort review
Everyone was ready to sleep in this morning except Zach. He woke up Kyrie and me pretty early again, but the others managed to stay asleep for a while. When everyone did wake up, Jacob had a fever. So, Kyrie, Max and Ella went to the park while Zach and I stayed back with Jacob - neither of us minded. I was ready for a break and Zach wanted to watch Peppa Pig.
We arrived during early entry and got a few rides on the kids' favorite coaster Flight of the Hipogriff and a walk through Honeydukes candy shop before the park officially opened.
Then off to Suess Landing where we had the lace to ourselves while we rode all the rides in this section and met many characters too.
Max had really been looking forward to Storm Force, the one ride he will do in the Super Hero part of this park. Finally he got his chance.
Ella's face never got any happier than this as we rode Dudley Do-right's Ripsaw Falls. My once fearless girl seems to have developed some since she broke her arm. The ride is so cute though and the drop isn't even as big as Splash Mountain's which the kids ride all the time.
We cheered Ella up with a ride on Pteranodon Flyers and some time to play in the Jurassic Park play area. Hungry now, we had lunch at Burger Digs where a baby dino tried to steal our fries.
We texted Marc the picture because we thought it was so cool to meet this dino, and he asked if that's what the burgers are made out of!
We ended up spending an hour and twenty minutes here because Burger Digs is in Jurassic ark Discovery Center. The kids were drawn downstairs by the hatching of a baby raptor. Then they had to check everything else out. Little did they know they were LEARNING. It was like a mini children's museum.
Jacob started feeling better later in the day, so I took him to Islands of Adventure, but he immediately felt worse so we left.
Jacob rested by the pool for a while and the rest of the kids played in the water. Ella's been mad about not getting to play in the pool because of her cast, so she was rather pouty about that. Another uncharacteristic mood for Ella. Hope this broken arm hasn't permanently changed my one "easy" child.
For dinner we just ate at the cafeteria again, which was perfect for today.
Overall, we've really enjoyed Cabana Bay resort a lot. The pools are fun. There is a decent cafeteria and a poolside restaurant which is good. The room is just perfect for us. We were worried that we'd be squeezed in, but the room really is an efficient use of space and has fit us just fine. Of course, once Zach is a little older that won't work, but the room would be fine for a family of 6 and roomy for a family of 4. I love the theming and the decor in the rooms and around the hotel. The 50's commercials that they play in the cafeteria dining room are hilarious - clearly from a world without remote controls for the TV's!
We have also stayed another Universal hotel in the past, the Royal Pacific. The Royal Pacific is more upscale of course (and it costs a lot more), so it has a table service restaurant, but other than that, the only thing I liked better over there was the boat service to the theme parks instead of the buses. But really the buses have been good. We've barely had to wait for them at all. It's just a pain to fold up the stroller, but I probably had to do that on the boat too, I just don't remember.
Anyway, we definitely recommend the Cabana Bay Resort!
I'll add that the housekeeping was exceptional! I was impressed with the resort and all of it's amenities. Nothing physically lacking here when compared to Disney... except the cast members at Disney just make the overall experience, well, more magical. Same goes for Universal's theme parks. IOA is actually my favorite park of any theme park we've ever been to as far as the rides and even themed areas are concerned, and overall Universal's rides are better than Disney's BUT somehow Disney's experience is just MAGICAL. No wonder they have such a loyal following.
Day 7 - Magic Kingdom and Grand Floridian Villas
We tossed back and forth the idea of spending this morning at Universal, but we opted to get picked up and go to Magic Kingdom instead. Zach got one last Minion fix by exploring the gift shop while we waited for our ride.
|Feeling the magic and loving the smell at The Villas at the Grand Floridian|
|It's a Small World|
Zach really enjoyed Le Fou's Brew at Gaston's Tavern. So did everyone else!
We have stayed at nearly all Disney Vacation Club resorts and our villas are always great, but I was particularly impressed with this 2 bedroom villa at The Grand Floridian.
Some of the things that stood out to me about our room here was TVs embedded in the mirrors in both of the bathrooms; both bathrooms were also two sections; one with vanity and tub, and another with vanity and rain shower; huge refrigerator with 2 part freezer (one part was an icemaker and server); the view of the lake and pool area with Magic Kingdom fireworks at night and an amazing monorail view during the day. I really enjoyed the seemingly old fashioned bathtub that also had water jets. Upgraded toiletry items too. I could never describe what makes this place stand out but it just does. It was awesome!
The villas at Grand Floridian are great. Very spacious and comfortable. The resort has a lot of restaurants to choose from and you can't beat the location! We tried for a view that included Magic Kingdom, but we can't quite see it from our room. We are able to see most of the fireworks though.
For dinner we ate at Grand Floridian Cafe. This is one of four table service restaurants here, plus they have a quick service place and at least one bar that serves some food by the pool, and they have an afternoon tea room. The Grand Floridian Cafe had some really good food - and the desserts were fancy and delicious!
I felt like I was in heaven this evening. The kids all went to sleep pretty early. I got to use the jetted tub without interruption and then watch HalloWishes fireworks from the balcony. Ahhh!
I won't bother discussing about Zach waking up too early - again! And by early we are talking in the 4 o'clock hour! Instead, I'll skip forward to breakfast at Kona Cafe. This is by far our favorite breakfast place at Magic Kingdom and today was great as usual.
|New lobby decor at the Polynesian|
|Turned out to be a character breakfast...starring Zach!|
During breakfast we talked about going to the pool, but Jacob and Ella weren't interested in that and I'm not much of a pool person, so the three of us, plus Zach went to Magic Kingdom while the rest played at the pool.
We had a lot of fun taking in the park, but were limited to attractions that Zach could go on. We ran the gamut on toddler friendly attractions and did everything from Carousel of Progress to It's a Small World to the Enchanted Tiki Room. I'm kind of amazed at the technology that must go into getting those animatronic birds to work - especially since it's like 50 years old! It doesn't seem like there is much room for wires or machinery, so it must be designed in a very clever way.
We had an extra fun time at the Monster's Inc. Laugh Factory. The audience members who were picked really played along well!
We hopped off the monorail at the GF and waved goodbye to the rest of them... the n we went shopping!!!
|View of the lake from the pool|
The pool party started with a dance competition that Zoe wanted to be in. She was rocking out in the pool to warm up. She was super shy once she got up there though. Still, she tied for first place!
|Dance competition - 2 contestants!|
They joined us at Magic Kingdom after the pool party and we used the Fast Passes that Kyrie had planned out so well for the big rides. We got rained on for a little while, but it wasn't too bad.
|Zoe seems to have a love/hate relationship with theme parks...and everything else in life.|
|There was a lot of snacking going on this afternoon|
|Dole Whip Float|
|Mickey Pretzel and Churro|
With the late breakfast, some of skipped lunch, some skipped dinner, but all seemed to partake in snacking around the Magic Kingdom.
We had a nice ride on 7DMT again. Zoe said she likes it even better in the rain. Today was her happy day! We had one of the best Jungle Cruise captains ever. I wouldn't be surprised if he becomes a famous actor some day. The kids even got in a little Sorcerers of the Magic Kingdom played today.
We stopped at the Contempo Cafe, a quick service restaurant at the Contemorary Resort, on our way back to Grand Floridian. They have decent food and great cupcakes there!
|Boston Cream and Pumpkin Praline Cupcakes|
Day 9 - Animal Kingdom and Animal Kingdom Lodge
We actually all slept pretty well last night and Zach didn't wake us up! This morning we packed our stuff up again and sent it off to meet up with us at Animal Kingdom Lodge. We spent the late morning and afternoon at Animal Kingdom park today.
We didn't get to the bus stop until after 10am. The bus was packed! Marc held the stroller and the baby! I was able to sit and hold Zoe. Today was NOT her happy day...that was yesterday, remember?
We didn't get to the bus stop until after 10am. The bus was packed! Marc held the stroller and the baby! I was able to sit and hold Zoe. Today was NOT her happy day...that was yesterday, remember?
It was lightly raining when we got there. Really no big deal, but Zoe and Ella wanted the ponchos. Zoe also refused to take a group picture with us here.
No kids besides Jacob wanted to ride, so using our group's 6 FPs, he got to ride three times in a row!
Lunch was delicious but Zoe was...not having a happy day. She's not over stimulated; she's not over tired...she's just Zoe. I saw a t-shirt at MK the other day. It said, "Grumpy. Not just a feeling. A lifestyle." I teased her about it then, and she said they should have one for her that says, "Happy!" Maybe THAT day. Poor Zoe.
Not sure why, but the Fast Pass line for the Safari was wrapped around so far, I'm quite sure the regular line was at least as "fast" if not faster. Still, it didn't take long.
Everyone enjoyed the safari! We had the best view of the lions ever!
Zach had a nap while we shopped and then woke up ready to ride Triceratops Spin and play at the Boneyard.
|The Cast Member helped bury Jacob...why?, what did he do?|
|"One more time, Dad"|
The boys and I got soaked on the river rapids ride. The ride stopped just as we were at the top of the waterfall, for more than 5 minutes! I thought we were going to be on the "dry" side, but then when the gate finally opened, it spun us and Max and I got the worst of it!
It was cool seeing all of the construction going on for the nighttime water show and the new Avatar land. Looking forward to seeing some new attractions at this park - it needs them!
Finally it was time to get into our room at Kidani...
Animal Kingdom Lodge is always a favorite of ours. The Savannah View rooms are so peaceful and always something interesting to look at! I would recommend the rooms in the Jambo House instead of Kidani however. We are at Kidani and it's hard to get to the pool and the only quick service food is at the pool bar and that only has Ceasar salad. Jambo House is where all the action is at.
Day 10 - More Animal Kingdom
Poor Ella! As if breaking her arm right before the trip weren't bad enough, this morning she woke up feeling sick and eventually threw up! She definitely wasn't up for visiting any parks, so Kyrie stayed back with her, and Max decided to as well.
It wasn't so bad hanging out in the room today (at least after maintenance came and deodorized the carpet.) The view is ever changing and Max and Ella barely moved a muscle. It gave me a chance to add my comments to this blog.
The rest of us took the bus to Animal Kingdom. (I really wish they'd add a walking trail to get there!) Since the "babies" were with us, we couldn't go on many rides, but we were okay with that. We treated the park more like a zoo this time and it made it a different experience. We didn't do a whole lot, but it was fun.
Zach enjoyed chasing the goats around in Rafiki's Conservation Station. He would get mad if they walked away when he was trying to brush them. He'd follow them saying, "hey...hey...HEY!"
We ate lunch at the new quick service area, Harambi Market. Jacob had the kids rib meal which he liked, but it was tiny (and he didn't like that the only choice of sides was grapes, carrots or broccoli). The other kids had the snack packs which they loved. I had the curried sausage corn dog thing which wasn't very good even though I like curry.
After lunch we headed back to the hotel. We all walked down to the pool, but Ella still wasn't feeling well (and threw up again) so I took her, Max, and Zach back while the others swam. Zach promptly took a nap and Ella eventually did too.
Jacob got tired of swimming pretty quickly, but Zoe loved it and loves the afternoon pool parties and winning prizes! We stayed until it was time to get ready for dinner.
We had a quiet afternoon. The only excitement is when 3 antelope jumped the electric fence. It doesn't seem to be a big deal since there are no rooms on the first floor and after several hours nobody seems to be doing anything about it. The antelope seemed interested in checking out everything so I don't think it happens every day.
Eventually it was dinner time which luckily we had reservations at Sanaa which is here in the building. I sent Kyrie with Jacob and Max since Ella wasn't interested and Zach is just a troublemaker at restaurants anyway. Zoe went with initially, but ended up back in the room and fell asleep pretty quickly. Guess we're wearing them out!
|Kid's "Cookie and Milk"|
Tomorrow Jacob and I are going to attempt to ride every ride at Disney World. Officially there are 46 rides across the 4 parks, but a couple of them are closed. It should be a fun challenge!
Ella threw up two more times tonight. We had to call back the people to clean/deodorize the carpet. Tomorrow should be interesting.
Day 11 - Every Ride in Every Park
So we chose a day that included extra magic hours in the morning and at night to give ourselves as much time as possible. Altogether parks were open from 8am to 1am, giving us a total of 17 hours. I figured that would easily be enough time even though I read that nobody has done it in less than 17. Plus, I knew we had a few ride closures so that should make it easier. The official WDW46 challenge was created by parkeology.com and only a handful of people have successfully done it. Since Pirates of the Caribbean is closed throughout our trip we couldn't officially complete the challenge anyway, but I just wanted to try it - I don't need it to be official.
That being said here there was one "cheat" that we used. We had accumulated five rider swap passes throughout the week by one of us staying back with the baby while the others rode. Instead of using those the same day, we saved them and Jacob and I used them today. Definitely would have disqualified us, but since we couldn't make it official anyway we figured we might as well use them.
The other thing that would have disqualified us is that the main street vehicles are considered a ride. You know, the trolley car, fire truck, omnibus, etc. that you very occasionally see going by - those are the main street vehicles and you are supposed to ride one for the challenge. The trouble is that they are only open until noon! This would have required us to visit Magic Kingdom twice to make it work and I couldn't justify the extra time to park hop a fifth time. Plus, I was at Magic Kingdom several mornings over the past week and never saw them running so I could have been making an extra trip here for nothing. So we skipped those in addition to the two closed rides - which left us with 43 possible rides. Here's how it went:
Jacob's comments will be in orange.
|Fresh and excited to start the day!|
8:00am Gates open - fast walk to first ride
#1 8:07am Toy Story Mania - a couple people let us in front of them because they saw our shirts and asked us what we were doing. We were on the second vehicle of the day!
#2 8:25 Rock N Roller Coaster - first setback - ride has to be reset - something about a selfie stick. Brief delay, but not too bad.
#3 8:44 Tower of Terror - this ride petrifies me, but I'm willing to ride it for the challenge!
#4 9:05 Star Tours - still able to walk right on!
#5 9:43 Great Movie Ride - First mistake of the day. Should have done this before Star Tours. The line here is unexpectedly long for so early in the day.
Leaving here about 15 minutes later than hoped, but still on track for success.
Marc texted me a picture and time they got on each ride. It was fun to see their progress. I then posted it to my Disney Facebook group. People got into this WAY more than I expected! 185 "Likes" and over 300 comments on the thread by the end of the day!
10:36 Arrive at Animal Kingdom
primeval whirl is closed for the day (as expected)
grabbed a pretzel to eat while standing in line
#6 11:29 Kilimanjaro Safari - Second mistake. Ride app said the line was 20 minutes, but when we got to the line it was 40. Should have come back to this later, but the park was so packed I second guessed myself and thought the line might get longer. Looking back I would have reversed the rides here.
#7 12:01 Wildlife Express
#8 12:26 Kali River Rapids - Line was shorter than expected.
#9 12:52 Expedition Everest - Fastpass from parent swap
#10 1:11 Triceratops Spin
#11 1:21 Dinosaur
Definitely falling behind at this point, the safari line was rough and it was so crowded that just walking through the park took too long.
2:20 Finally arrived at Epcot after LONG wait for a bus! Lucky to still be here in time for our fastpasses.
#12 2:29 Spaceship Earth - official fastpass - actually saved a few minutes. They made the Spaceship Earth FP with one minute to spare! Nail biting!
#13 2:55 Finding Nemo - we all rode this together. Was great to see everyone and now re-energized!
#14 3:10 Soarin' - official fastpass
Grabbed lunch at Sunshine Terrace - fruit cup for Jacob and chicken wrap for me.
Phone battery is dead and charging cord not working. Leave Land pavilion to buy charger before next ride so that we can keep documenting our progress.#15 3:57 Living with the Land - liked the new water garden display!
#16 4:27 Journey into Imagination
#17 4:46 Gran Fiesta Tour
Recognized by someone in Kyrie's Disney Facebook group! People are actually following our progress and cheering us on online!
#18 5:09 Test Track - single rider line saved us a lot of time and we still ended up in the same vehicle!
#19 5:34 Mission Space
#20 5:57 Ellen's Energy Adventure - love the ride, but it was brutal to spend almost an hour on it at this point. Was nice to give our legs a break though!
Hardly had to stand in line at this park at all, but it took us 4 and half hours!
Grabbed some popcorn to eat on the monorail.
Eleven hours into this and still more than half the rides to go! Magic Kingdom rides should be quicker though so we are still confident.
Pirates of the Caribbean is closed as expected.
#21 7:09 Railroad
Tom Sawyer riverboats are now closed - officially missed a ride!
#22 7:17 Splash Mountain - Fastpass from Rider Swap
#23 7:39 Big Thunder Mountain - Fastpass from Rider Swap
#24 7:55 Riverboat - lucky because it closed after this ride.
The park is really busy and we have to basically wing it using the Lines app and our best judgement. Seems like everything has a long line. Stop at Kiosk and grab fastpass for buzz lightyear because that's all that's left. Decide to stick with our fastpass rides for now and hope the lines go down during and after parade and fireworks.
#25 8:32 Seven Dwarfs Minetrain - Fastpass from Rider Swap
#26 8:42 Mad Tea Cups
#27 9:01 Goofy's Barnstormer - Fastpass from Rider Swap, but still takes a while.
#28 9:25 Astro Orbiter i started getting sleepy on this ride
#29 9:42 Buzz Lightyear - official fastpass
Dinner? Popcorn for Jacob and candied almonds for me - hard to find food that is easy to eat on the go and doesn't have a line.
#30 10:02 People Mover
Starting to feel more confident now. Still have 3 hours left and we've knocked out quite a few. Park is still dreadfully busy but people are busy with the fireworks. We're both pretty tired but still enthusiastic. Noticed while on People Mover that lights are on in Space Mountain and it's shut down - could be another lost ride - oh no!
#31 10:18 Tomorrowland Speedway - no line! Everyone is watching fireworks.
#32 10:30 Dumbo - Fireworks ending and crowds coming back. Aren't they supposed to go home now?!
#33 10:42 Ariel's Journey - In line right behind someone who recognizes us from Kyrie's facebook posts - Cool! Longer than expected line for this though.
Officially into extra magic hours now that it's 11pm, but that doesn't seem to be reducing the crowds any.
#34 11:03 Haunted Mansion - a few long minutes of ride stoppage while on board.
Kyrie notifies me that Carousel of Progress is now closed. Ugh. I really don't consider it a ride anyway, but I was trying to stick as close as possible to the full 46 rides. Checked ahead of time to see if any rides are normally closed during extra magic hours, but I guess I didn't look hard enough. I almost fell asleep on this one!
#35 11:25 It's a Small World - feels like the longest journey ever with several rides still to go.
#36 11:40 King Arthur's Carousel
Walk over to jungle cruise but it's closed! Really bummed about this one, but it's time to finish up this challenge one way or another.
#37 11:55 Magic Carpets - Jacob is getting really tired now - this is WAY past his bedtime!
#38 12:09 Space Mountain - glad to see that it's running. Jacob and I pretend to be sleeping during on ride photo. Practically could sleep on this crazy ride at this point.
#39 12:24 Winnie the Pooh - Barely noticing the rides themselves anymore, but excited that we're almost done!
#40 12:38 Peter Pan - Finally made it! Very happy to be going on our last ride.
I am so tired!
Grabbed some fries on the way out of the park because I figure we must need to eat something, but we're just too tired and neither of us eat many. Jacob sleeps through the entire bus ride.
So, we fell a little short of our goal, but not too bad. We had a great time and we'll always remember this day so I'm glad we did it. It was definitely a lot harder than I expected, but it was also a lot of fun. I don't think we'll be trying it again anytime soon, but maybe someday!
By the way, thanks to everyone who commented on Kyrie's Facebook posts. She kept us up to date with your messages and it made it even more fun for us!
So here was my version of this day... Zoe was up and eating breakfast before the guys left for their challenge. Then she went back to bed. Then got up and ate second breakfast.
|Sun coming up over the Savannah|
I was packing up the room when Max and Ella got up around 8:30am. I remember the time because Ella promptly threw up again. Ugh. Was really hoping she would be better today so we could do something fun.
I called Animal Kingdom's front desk to see if we could get a late check out or early check-in at Saratoga Springs to no avail. Kept packing.
The day pretty much looked like this until 11am check out.
I did my best to pack up but I was distracted by trying to figure out how to best take care of my little crew, especially Ella today. I didn't realize until I was unpacking at about 10:30pm that I had missed packing our entire drawer of clean underwear. Thank goodness we moved some dirty laundry and had a washer/dryer or we would have really been out of luck tomorrow.
Not having anywhere to hangout with my sickie, we stuffed an emergency barf bag in her pocket and went to Epcot. We figured we would try to see some shows or do mild attractions if she could stand it.
|Kids wanted to see Jacob's baby picture on the Epcot wall|
|Figment play area|
We were going slow and Ella was feeling a little better. We rented a stroller because trying to take our monster stroller on the bus and juggle babies wasn't going to work when I'm on my own. The kids thought that was a special treat!
|Lunch at Season's|
|An apple spice cake cupcake|
After our very brief meet up with our local celebrities, Max finally got to see the manatees. We still haven't received word from Saratoga Springs about our room being ready but knew it should be soon. So we started heading out of the park. We rode Spaceship Earth and went to the bus stop. Finally I got a message from the resort. Usually it's just a text with a room number and notification that it's ready. But this text said to see the front desk for our room assignment. Tired kids now, I was worried this was trouble...and it was. Long story short, I was at the check-in desk holding a sleeping baby with patient but tired kids at my heals for about half an hour. The cast member didn't tell me what the problem was, she barely said anything other than, "Better to spend the time now to get things working right than to get to our room and not have the door open." She wasn't friendly or helpful. Even when there aren't problems, cast members are usually more helpful and doting on kids. Stickers, pins, or at least a smile! We just wanted to finally get to our room!
Our villa here is called a treehouse villa. It's kind of what it sounds like...a treehouse just for us. It's quite separate from the main part of the resort. A man drove us in a golf cart along with our luggage which had arrived from the other resort. He showed us around the grounds as we went along.
But when we got there, our bands did NOT open our door!
Fortunately he was able to let us in, but we spent the next hour taking care of getting our bands to work to open the door.
|Master bathroom with strangest tub/shower combo I've ever seen|
|Bunk bed Room|
|Boat to DTD|
The first place we came across that had food we could agree upon was Wolfgang Puck Cafe. It did not go well.
Then things really went wrong. We got in the wrong boat line. Then figured that out after awhile and got into the correct line but somehow got on the wrong boat. This took us on a long pointless boat ride to Old Key West and then back to DTD where we started. Embarrassed and exhausted I wanted to give up and call Marc to come home now. And that was before discovering I didn't pack everyone's underwear!
Somehow I pulled it together. The kids were so tired they immediately put themselves to bed when we got back. Even Zach sat on my bed and watched Mickey Mouse cartoons while I unpacked...and then started doing laundry! Zach fell asleep there. I would have too, but I had to stay up to do live updates on Marc and Jacob's last 2 hours of their challenge. Other people were following their progress and cheering them on. If THEY were staying up to see how they did, then I certainly had to! Besides their bands won't work to open our door anyway. So happy to see them return at 1:45am! All exhausted, we could finally collapse.
Day 12 - Treehouse Villas at Saratoga Springs Resort
The treehouse villas are pretty nice, but have a couple of drawbacks. The main problem is that they are far away from everything. It is nice being in the wilderness a bit, but it's a pain having to take a bus, boat, or long walk to get where you are going. We were fortunate to be in one that is close to the boat dock and to the walking path. Many of the villas at Saratoga Springs are like that, not just the treehouse villas. The other problem was that the master bedroom only has a queen size bed even though there is room for a king size. Since Zach still sleeps with us that doesn't really work out too well!
Other than those two things I really liked the treehouse villas. The villa is cute and has a nice layout (reminds me of the Dymaxion at the Henry Ford museum). Jacob liked that there were 2 kids bedrooms instead of one. There is a large deck and picnic table outside. The treehouse villas were created in a wetland so it basically looks like a big swamp which is interesting. We were lucky to get a villa with a view of the canal so we could see the boats go by all day. I would definitely recommend requesting that view (or golf course if you like that kind of thing). Also, if you won't have a car you should request one of the villas near the Grandstand. That put's you closer to the lobby area.
The bus service here is difficult. There are several stops within Saratoga Springs, so the bus takes a while and can fill up before it gets to your stop during busy times. I wouldn't recommend this resort (or Old Key West) to people without a car. There are plenty of other great DVC resorts that have easier transportation.
One other thing, this resort is right across the lake from Downtown Disney. That means it is pretty far from most of the parks. It's definitely the most convenient access to Downtown Disney, but takes a while to get pretty much anywhere else.
Today, I was going to take Max and Ella to the Magic Kingdom while Jacob and Marc rested up after their long day yesterday. But they woke up feeling fine and I felt exhausted. Plus Max was starting too feel ill, so we laid low this morning. This is the third day in a row without a "real" park day for me. That is killing me!
Zoe started the day with a luxurious bubble bath. It was like a bad Brady Bunch washing machine overflow episode. The jets in the tub turned the small amount of bath gel into tons and tons of bubbles and she loved it! This bath/shower strange combo (The whole tub is literally in the shower.) let her go crazy splashing and playing without us worrying about soaking the whole bathroom. We might need this at home.
|Zoe got some pirate booty on the boat to the main part of the resort.|
|Dock. Waiting for boat to the swimming pool.|
|Our villa as viewed from the canal|
|One of Saratoga Spring's main pools|
Today we planned to take it easy after our long and/or difficult day yesterday. We slept in a bit and spent the midday at the pool. The kids had a lot of fun swimming and playing pool games. We had planned on spending the evening at Hollywood Studios, but Max caught the virus that Ella had and started feeling bad (and vomiting) as soon as we left the pool.
|Had to take pictures of something today! The boat transporting us from the pool to the treehouse villas.|
|Watching TV. At least there is something on that the kids like.|
Day 13 - Disney's Hollywood Studios and Epcot
Max still wasn't feeling that well this morning so Zach and I stayed back with him while Kyrie took the others to Hollywood Studios. Max and Zach watched a lot of TV while I got caught up on laundry and tried to follow up with our missing clothes.
Eventually, it was clear that Max was feeling better, so we took a walk to see some wildlife. A cast member had told me there is a family of otters living near the Paddock section of the resort. We went over there and saw lots of fish and turtles, but no otters. It was still a lot of fun and a good test to see how Max was feeling.
|Anna and Elsa topiaries|
|Obligatory Mr. Potatohead picture!|
Zoe really enjoyed Toy Story Midway Mania this trip because she was good at shooting the targets and racking up points.
We rushed over to Tower of Terror next. This has become a favorite for Zoe this trip too. BUT Ella is suddenly terrified of it. She agreed when we left this morning that she would ride it, but backed out at the last minute. Jacob waited with her, while Zoe and I rode it. (Zoe had to be accompanied by an adult.)
|Ella looking terrified already|
When we exited Tower of Terror, we saw these cute junior cast members. Now it was time for a snack. Starring Rolls bakery has my favorite cupcake on property (Butterfinger), but I passed it up today to try this new vanilla one. It was supposed to have strawberry filling, but mine did not. Ella had a chocolate chocolate chip muffin too.
At this point the park was really filling up and our time was limited here, so we skipped Star Tours and the Great Movie Ride to have one Fast ass ride on Toy Story and then one last visit to One Man's Dream, an attraction about Walt Disney including a movie. It will be permanently closed by our next visit to make room for the Toy Story Land expansion.
|Future Disney CEO, standing in front of Walt's desk|
The girl's were excited to get front row seats... Woo!
We tried to see Under the Sea with Ariel too, but once the show started, Zoe was scared anticipating Ursula's part of the show and she made us leave! What's going on with these girls?!
|Exiting Disney's Hollywood Studios|
Zoe has been complaining about being cold every time we're in the air conditioning. I told her to go outside to warm up while we were waiting for our food, and the CM out there, gave her a beach towel to wrap up in!
Since the kids' meals came with their own little mouse sundaes, there was no one to share my No Way Jose sundae. Darn. Got it anyway!
|Jacob at the helm now|
We got stuck with the path raised to bring out the floats for IllumiNations, their nighttime show. See some fireworks going by below...
Marc, Max, and Zach finally caught up with us for the last few countries, China, Norway, and Mexico.
|Zach loved every water spraying thing we passed . He would see one and run for it!|
|The last car design, "Sparkle Car."|
We had time to ride Test Track and Soarin' with Fast Passes too, before eating dinner at Sunshine Seasons and calling it a night.
|Zach was also a fan of sampling soda at Club Cool|
|...and watching ducks|
|Red Velvet Whoopie Pie at Seasons|
|"Mine, mine, mine!"|
Finally! We all wake up feeling okay! It's our last day and we choose to spend it at the Magic Kingdom. We make it to rope drop and it's super crowded already. That's okay, we don't have to rush off to the most popular rides first like most others will, because we have Fast Passes for them.
|Enjoying the opening show|
First on our list is Peter Pan. The new interactive line really enhances this experience.
Next we planned to be ride Winnie the Pooh, but it wasn't running and the little ones had their own agenda any as it turned out.
|Mad Tea Party|
|Alice and the white rabbit rode too|
We needed a snack but didn't want to slow down our pace too much so we grabbed a couple of fruit smoothies to share from Auntie Gravity's. A cast member there was charmed by Zach and decided he needed his own so she gave him a free one.
Next we rode the Barnstormer kids roller coaster which Zach was suddenly tall enough to ride. And then Dumbo. Ever since they doubled up the Dumbos, we really haven't encountered a wait here. But since they built the cute play area in an effort to keep kids entertained while waiting, we still have to wait anyway! At least it's a good place to cool off!
|Dumbo play area|
Zoe's fear of Ursula continues today, making Marc get out of line with her at Ariel's Under the Sea ride which has always been one of her favorites and she had no problem with it last week!
We had a lot of fast passes and rider swap tickets to use today. Next we rode Seven Dwarfs Mine Train a couple of times. Zach is too little for this, so Marc took him to the Winnie the Pooh ride line to play, (Which was now open with a long wait.) Zoe and I joined them and I actually got in line while Marc and the other kids rode Seven Dwarfs again.
Then they went and ordered lunch and found a table at Casey's while we rode Winnie the Pooh. Mini Corn Dogs hit the spot today! We arrived just time to eat!
Finally, it was time to use one of our most anticipated Fast Passes of our trip... to meet Anna and Elsa to have Ella's cast signed! Anna was really in character. Cute!
|Zach enjoyed shopping|
I think we rode Big Thunder and Splash Mountains next, again switching off with the baby. While Jacob and Marc took their ride on Splash, I took the little ones to get this snack at Sleepy Hollow. A Nutella and fresh fruit waffle. It was so good, I'm going to have to try this at home!
It was hot, hot, hot! We were losing steam but there were still some things we wanted to do before leaving. We went back to Tomorrowland to ride Buzz Lightyear's Space Ranger Spin and Monsters Inc. Laugh Floor.
Now time for shopping on Main Street for Jacob and Max who had not bought any souvenirs yet. Ella and I lagged behind to get a Frappuccino at Starbucks. A cast member in there asked if she could sign Ella's cast and also bought her a cookie!
Marc took the Z's and Ella back to the resort now while I helped Jacob and Max make their purchases. We ran into the afternoon parade/ dance party on the way out.
It really was a perfect Magic Kingdom day!
|Sympathy cookie with Mickey confetti|
|A float from the afternoon dance party|
Marc texted me when we were on our way back on the bus. He said the Disney magic I was missing for a few days just showed up a our door! What? He wouldn't explain anymore or send me a picture.
Max explored his souvenir on the bus. Jacob's was a t-shirt.
Saratoga Springs sent us this gift basket to make up for the trouble we had at check-in and for not initially resolving it well. This was much appreciated even if it would have been more useful a couple of days ago, when we were stuck in our room. Still, we appreciated it and packed most of it to go home! Most importantly, it restored my happiness with Disney and their exceptional service (AKA "magic" or "pixie dust".) Yay!
|A lot of goodies in a collapsible cooler bag|
Pushing our luck now, we made a 7:45 dinner reservation at the Turf Club at Saratoga Springs. We just wanted some good food after being stuck with quick service options for several days. We canceled most of our dining reservations due to someone or another being too ill to go.
It was the perfect ending to our magical day. Dinner was excellent! The kids put up with it. No one fought over the glow cube in my cocktail agreeing to let Zach have it, so the waiter decided to give one to all of the kids.
I had to get up at 4:15am to get us ready and out the door this morning. A Mickey Ice Cream Bar was my breakfast since I couldn't stand to waste it. Marc had bought several for dessert a few nights ago but the kids were being crazy, so we never handed them out.
We didn't receive our Magical Express confirmation for our return ride to the airport, so Marc called the desk after dinner last night and was told to just come to the desk in the morning to get our documentation for our 6am pick-up. They also arranged for our bags and us to be picked up at 5:30am.
Good thing we arranged for our baggage pick-up last night, because there was no answer at bell services this morning! I was a little worried, but they showed up on time and we were ready and waiting. Everything went smoothly and the Magical Express bus pulled in right at 6am to take us to the airport.
Zach was wide awake, but no one else was. Everyone did a good job traveling though.
|Home Sweet Home, Chicago!|